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Pros & Cons of New .Law Top Level Domain

View profile for Jamie Stevens
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ICAAN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) who are the organisation responsible for the introduction of new top level domains has given exclusive rights to a company called Minds + Machines to operate a new .law gTLD (Generic Top Level Domain) which will go live in September. There have been a large number of gTLDs created lately as ICAAN tries to increase the number of domains available due to the internet growing exponentially. While owning a .law domain might seem like a great idea for any firm, there are both positive an negative aspects to buying one.

Pros

Brand protection

Avoid competitors buying out the gTLD for your business - As with previous gTLDs, competitors or cyber-squatters may buy the gTLD for your brand, either to try to dilute your brand or to try and sell the domain back to you at a higher cost. The CEO of .law has said that there will be a verification process so that only a lawyer may purchase a .law domain, however it is currently unknown how robust this process will be.

Stand out from the crowd

As the .law domain does not currently exist, getting in there early and registering a .law domain will make you stand out from the crowd.

Cons

Lack of public familiarity

If you change your site over to a .law domain, even if a redirect is placed, your customer is likely to be expecting to be taken to your .com or .co.uk domain and may become concerned as redirecting is a common technique criminals use for phishing attacks. People generally trust what they know more, so it is often best to go with what they already know.

SEO

It will be necessary to set up a 301 redirect from your old domain to the new domain. While Google will pass the Domain Authority and Page Authority to the new site, a lot can go wrong in this process if the redirect is not set up correctly

Trust in older domains

If you have a domain that you have owned since the 90's, Google will place far more trust in your site than if you have only just registered the domain in 2015 as you are more likely to be an established brand.

Brand protection

Yes, I have already written this as a pro but it is also a con! Law Firms may feel they have to buy the domain for no other reason than stopping competitors buying it and using it against them, but if the verification process works, then this is not so much of a risk.

Expense

At £135 per year, the .law domains are far more expensive than a .com or .co.uk domain.

Association with spam

When previous generic top level domains like .biz, .mobi & .info were released back in 2001 they quickly became associated with spam and cyber-squatters, causing people to place less trust in the domains and brands generally ignoring them.

Based on these points, I would recommend buying your domain, but just sitting on it and seeing what happens when it goes live in September. It is currently too early to tell whether a .law domain will be considered to be trustworthy by the public, or whether it will end up being yet another indicator of a low quality site, just like .biz or .info.

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